Men’s fastpitch revival underway in Springfield, Missouri

Written by Bob on April 16th, 2014

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Here and there across the U.S. pockets of men’s and boys’ fastpitch exist where a dedicated few are working hard to revive the sport.

Mankato and Preston, Minn.; Midland and Reese, Mich.; Boise, Idaho, and Seattle and Moses Lake, Wash., and Santa Barbara, Calif. come to mind.

And there’s also Springfield, Missouri where Danny Brown, manager of Artisan Construction, and Donovan Nelson, pitcher, coach and pitching instructor are doing their best to save the sport.

Nelson remembers a time when over 100 teams played in various divisions from upper to lower in the city. But as with much of the country, the sport has fallen in numbers and popularity. And Springfield hasn’t been spared the fallout.

But Brown and Nelson aren’t bemoaning the fate of the sport in their city. Instead, they’ve taken a proactive stance to bring the sport into the consciousness of young and older males.

Let’s talk with Nelson about the state of men’s fastpitch in Springfield.

You formed a Fall developmental league, how did that come about? Danny Brown and I talked about growing the league and we decided we needed more pitching, and the only way to start it would be to get guys to jump into it by playing without the fear of competing against high-level pitchers.

What is the name of the league, and the caliber? The league is the Springfield Men’s Fastpitch League. The league is nothing higher than NAFA A, now.

What are the primary goals of the league? The goal is to ensure we have at least four teams, and then work to grow it as we can.

Who are the people responsible for getting it formed and are they current or past players, managers, etc.? Danny Brown and I are making sure communication is made with the teams and the parks department. We had Susan Provance with the Springfield-Greene County Park Board for years, but she’s been repositioned. Now we’re working with Mark Nelson.

Besides your league, are there any more leagues in Springfield or the Springfield area? There are no other leagues around us that we’re aware of. If we want to play additional teams we travel to Kansas City or the St. Louis area.

How has starting your developmental league been received by younger players? The developmental league that we played in the fall provided us a couple additional teams for the summer league.

What kind of recruiting process has taken place to attract younger players? Not all are seeking younger players, unlike myself. Many are recruiting slow pitch players to convert. I disagree with that process; therefore, I’ve always recruited baseball kids to play. Those who have tried it and stuck with me are loving it! I don’t throw the ball very hard, so I know how to find the fast outfielders and slick fielding young kids.

How are you going about attracting younger players – especially those willing to give pitching a try? Besides the developmental league from last fall, I’m going to work with the park board and talk to the other pitchers and offer free pitching clinics for boys prior to our games this simmer. I’m advertising that to the brothers and friends of girls I teach to pitch.

How can interested players sign up for the league? Anyone interested is able to contact the Springfield-Greene County Park Board and they will put them in touch with us.

What dates will the league run and at what softball field or complex? Our league is played on Tuesday nights at Killian Softball Complex at 6, 7:30 and 9 p.m.

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